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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Everything is overwhelming…

Updated: May 15th, 2024

Many dog lovers, especially those of you who just received the news that your dog has cancer, feel very overwhelmed.  This is very common and completely natural.

So many questions arise.  How did this happen?  Where did the cancer come from? Why wasn’t this picked up before?  Is it the food? Vaccines? Chemicals?

What do I do now?

I received, literally, over 3000 of these types of questions when people like you were polled.  We were trying to see what were the most important questions that people were asking so that I could answer them in the The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

For more helpful tools and information, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Many people also feel the need to get answers quickly, and that is very understandable.  It may feel like cancer is a ticking time bomb, and in some cases this feeling may be accurate.

Let’s get a bird’s eye view.

First,  get yourself some support.  Join a support group, talk to your rabbi.  Connect with someone who can be your ally.

You need to grab your “emotional oxygen mask” to clear your head.  Clear thinking can be difficult when you were just told that your friend, family member or companion has malignant cancer.

Whether it is anger, fear, going numb, or getting busy to the point where we slam our finger in the car door, these difficult emotions need to be experienced so you can move on.  Gathering information is impossible if you feel like you are in a war zone.  Get some help from someone who would understand.

Next, become your dog’s primary health advocate.  In order for you to have all the weapons you need, have a seat behind the wheel. This can be a little strange, since we are taught to simply listen to the doctor.

In cases where the best odds are as poor as stated by a veterinary text book, it is best to expand to look at all the options.

Some big categories for treatment. These are generalizations and may or may not apply to your dog’s cancer…

  • Conventional care: Surgery, Chemo, Radiation. If the vet thinks they can get clear margins on the cancer, usually surgical removal is a good option. Chemotherapy can help but sometimes not much.  Radiation only helps with certain tumor types and most commonly buys months.  Chemo and radiation do not cure most cancers in dogs.  Side effects can be lessened with the use of some supplements in this blog or the book.
  • Nutrition: get your dog on a carbohydrate restricted diet.  Commercial ND made by Hills is one option. Many other pet food companies are making foods suitable for cancer.  You want most of the calories coming from fat and protein.
  • If you want to go with a non-Western supplement system, talk to a vet experienced in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They give combination herb therapies that can help.
  • Homeopathy rarely hurts but get an experienced practitioner.
  • Control any pain using pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, radiation, or other steps.
  • Administer maintenance levels of a multivitamin.
  • Get your dog in the sun if you can a couple of times a week (not for fibrosarcoma or hemangiosarcoma of the skin)
  • Make sure your dog gets at least 9 hours of undisturbed sleep in total darkness.
  • Increase interactive self esteem building  and social relating in your dog.
  • Practice prayer and visualization if that is comfortable for you, on a regular basis.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Research any cutting edge conventional therapies or trials that may be available in your area
  • Supplements: They do different things.  Many of the ones below are included in blog posts in this site or in my book.  You want a multi-pronged attack, since cancer changes as it progresses.  A supplement with this approach that has had successes is available here:

Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Coping Guide to help manage the overwhelming emotions that you’re experiencing

A basic plan includes omega-3 fatty acids, beta glucans, and melatonin at night.  This is simple and can have some positive effects.

Alternatively, make your own program using curcumin, luteolin, beta glucans (from certain mushrooms), omega-3’s, artemisinin,  or neoplasene as some main heavy-hitters.  Other options include silymarin, astralagus, flax lignans, and more. Or, you can use the supplement I formulated called Apocaps.

This is just a basic framework and is not a true full-spectrum plan, but hopefully this can help consolidate your approach.  I use a framework like this in the book.

Create a written overall plan for yourself to organize your thoughts and vector towards action.  This approach has helped dogs with lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, mammary tumor, osteosarcoma, and more.

I do hope this helps your dog,

Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. steve on December 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Are there any side effects of astralagus and what dosage should I give my 70 lb dog?

  2. Mavis Palmer on April 17, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Caleb my 9 1/2 year old Rottweiler was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma in his left jaw 2 months ago. The Vet wanted to immediately remove his jaw. I asked for a 2nd opinion and off to the Vet Hospital we went. 4 hours later the Oncologist came out and told me the same thing, I refused again, they said he could die on the table.

    I researched and found that tetracycline has shrunk and killed tumor cells so I started Caleb on the following two months ago.

    In the morning 14 tetracycline tablets
    6 K9 immunity
    1 scoop of K9
    1 scoop of Essiac
    I stopped all dog food as research is saying it is made from dead animals.

    I bought him Baby Food in Jars (he loves in and gets his vitamins)
    I put all his meat in the blender (my oven is always on)
    Meat Loaf, sausages, roasts,
    I change his water everytime he drinks. Reverse Osmosis.
    His appetite is fantastic, his coat is glowing, the tumor is shrinking. He is running like a puppy. He sleeps a lot.
    My fingers crossed he is doing well so far.
    If anyone needs more info my email:
    Last night he was rolling in gravel with his happy growl.

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